History Lesson: Stars Who Played Historical Characters

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  • Forest Whitaker
  • Benicio del Toro
  • Chadwick Boseman, Jackie Robinson
  • Salma Hayek
  • Will Smith
  • Denzel Washington
  • Morgan Freeman, Nelson Mandela
  • Don Cheadle
  • Zoe Saldana
  • Halle Berry
  • Angela Bassett, Mary J. Blige
  • Madonna

Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)

Playing a historical character is on the wish list of nearly every actor, and usually a sure-fire way to awards recognition. Here is our list of celebs who tackled icons in history.

After an Oscar-winning turn as Idi Amin in 2006's The Last King of Scotland, Whitaker is back to the historical dramas with Lee Daniels' The Butler. In theaters this Friday, Whitaker plays Cecil Gaines, a White House butler who serves eight presidents and has a front row seat to the most significant events of the 20th century.

(Photo: The Weinstein Company)

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